Alumni News

Head of School Spotlight: The North Stars

Cissy Pope
The 2021-2022 school year marked the start of a new chapter in Hammond’s history. Not necessarily a new beginning, but progress toward the future. The appointment of Andy North as 10th Head of School signaled the turn of a page in a sweeping story of generations of students who have been touched by the Hammond experience. Andy and his wife, Becca, have spent the past few months getting to know our culture and traditions better, meeting the individuals who have been instrumental in the life of Hammond, and discovering for themselves the heart of Hammond.
A Florence, South Carolina native, and product of independent education, Andy easily transitioned from Hammond’s Head of Middle School to Head of School. Prior to coming to Hammond, he successfully served in a number of administrative roles at Episcopal School of Acadiana in Louisiana. When the Norths first visited three years ago, they were impressed by the vibrant passion for Hammond that exists within the broader school community, the commitment of faculty and staff to students, and ever-present sense of family. According to Andy, “After spending time with families, students, and faculty, I came to realize that this is a very special school community. There is a heart about Hammond that keeps families connected and engaged long after graduation.”
As Head of School, Andy has proven himself a decisive leader who is first and foremost concerned with what is in the best interest of students, and in turn, the school community. His leadership style is one of humility, but his warm personality and competitive nature belie a sharp attention to detail and thoughtful decision-making. More importantly, he has garnered the admiration of Skyhawks of all ages and grades, even receiving an occasional fan letter in the process. In the words of ninth grader Beatrice Weston, “I got to know Mr. North when he was Head of Middle School and was so excited when he was chosen to lead Hammond. I knew he would make a big effort to really engage with the student body and get to know them. So far, I think he has made a positive impact on Hammond. I know he will continue to do great things!” 
Among his many attributes, however, his considerate expressions of appreciation have especially ingratiated him to faculty and staff. He is quick to thank and equally as fast to commend a job well done. It comes as no surprise that having been a former English teacher and coach, Andy is a strong ally of those in the classrooms and on the sidelines. While his collegiate athletic background has made him a staunch supporter of the Skyhawk Nation, he is equally as passionate about Hammond’s vibrant arts program. 
According to Athletic Director Jeff Barnes, “Andy understands firsthand the value of athletics and its contribution to the development of students of all ages. His commitment to the whole child, in and out of the classroom, is unparalleled. We are fortunate to have a Head of School who supports and strives for excellence in all areas.” Director of Student Choirs Steven Hillard is quick to point out that this same enthusiasm extends to the arts. “Andy recognizes the importance of what our arts programs offers students. He believes in the process, appreciates the product, but more importantly, understands the lifelong impact arts make on the student.”
Working in tandem with Andy, the other half of the North star is Becca, who has quickly endeared herself to the Hammond family and has already proven herself to be one of our greatest cheerleaders. Where Andy leads with thought and experience, Becca leads with heart … one that has led her into the very heart of Hammond. A Virginia native, she never meets a stranger and is rarely found without her signature smile. Although her constant presence on campus would beg one to differ, she is a full-time Senior Credit Officer who works remotely and who views her supporting role at Hammond as one of continued involvement. “I have enjoyed being a parent volunteer over the past two years and look forward to continuing and expanding that involvement to as many areas of Hammond as possible.”
Dansby (6th grade) and Miller North (2nd grade) have likewise found a home at Hammond and are lifelong Skyhawks already. This fall found Dansby cheering the middle school football team while Miller is a rising soccer star in his own right. Both North children were delighted with the appointment of their father as Head of School. According to Dansby, “My Dad is a really hard worker and he’s easy to talk to. He always finds time to talk with me about my grades and check on how I’m doing in school. We’re so excited to be here and I think it’s really neat to see my Dad all over campus.” The smile on second grader Miller’s face was more powerful than words. “Hammond is a great place to be, and if you want to know something about my Dad that most people don’t know, it’s that he likes to sing. He sings all the time. That means he’s happy.” 
Only four months into the school year, the North family has already succeeded in making an impact on Hammond and the broader school family. Andy is quick to point out that his experience in independent education helped him discover his own True North… his calling, if you will. He witnessed firsthand the life-changing impact teachers and coaches can have on students. He has come full circle at Hammond. “I am humbled and honored to be Head of School at a place as special as Hammond. The hallmark of a great school is one that continuously strives to provide an unmatched educational experience, and one that fosters world class academics, athletics, and arts programs, while developing community servants who will make a difference in our world. 
We at Hammond look forward with excitement as the next chapter in our history begins to unfold, knowing we too found True North.